13th July 2016 – All good things must come to an end. As much as we love Santorini, we were scheduled to leave that morning to fly over to Athens.
Last few pictures taken during breakfast!
I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but earlier on, after the Boyfriend proposed, he told me to pick a place in Europe as our next destination. He booked our flights to Santorini, and from Athens back to Singapore. In between, we have approximately two weeks. He only had our accommodations booked for the first half of the trip hence he told me we could either continue to stay in Santorini or, travel to somewhere else for the second half of the trip.
If we were to fly to somewhere else after Santorini, we also have the option to either fly out directly from Santorini or, fly to Athens first, before boarding a second flight to said destination.
I love Santorini so much that I almost wanted to stay in Santorini for two full weeks. But after some intense discussion, we decided that we should make use of this opportunity to travel around Europe. We had our heart set on three places: UK (London), Czech Republic and Italy. Eventually, we decided to head to Italy! (Rome to be exact.)
Instead of hopping around different places in Italy, we also agreed to just pick a place and stay put for a week so that we can have sufficient time to fully take in the surrounding. So that’s how we ended up staying in Rome for a week.
After finalising the destination, the Boyfriend then booked our flight from Santorini to Athens, and from Athens to Rome. After touring Rome, we were set to take a flight back to Athens, before continuing our way to Istanbul and back to Singapore. Flights were booked a one or two days ago, but can you believe we only booked our accommodation on the very same day we bound for Rome?
Apparently, we have no sense of urgency. And because everything was done in such a rush, I only hope that the limited research I did prior booking the accommodation will serve me well for our one week stay in Rome.
Our flight to Athens was early in the morning and I’m surprised we even made it for breakfast that morning. Initially, I thought we wouldn’t be able to make it since we had such an early flight. But somehow we still managed to sneak in a quick breakfast before we head to the airport.
But partly because of that, we almost couldn’t make it on our flight. We got a shock when we arrived at the airport because the entire place was packed and chaotic. It took us awhile to finally locate the queue to collect our boarding pass and to our dismay, the queue was moving at such a snail pace. Looking at the time ticking away, it only made us more stress about the possibility of missing our flight. Not only we had to queue to collect our boarding pass, we also had to join a separate queue after that to check-in our luggage. Thereafter, we still had to queue again to clear immigration.
The Boyfriend was totally freaking out! And to be completely honest, seeing how frustrated and stressful he was to the situation, it just further dampens my mood. I was worried, for sure. But I definitely wasn’t half as worried and/or panicky as him. (As least that’s how I appear to be on the outside) I swear the word “stress” is written all over his face.
For me, I just felt that there was no point stressing over something that we have no control of. Stressing wasn’t going to help in any way. After all, we still had to queue and wait patiently for our turn.
But he explained to me that if we were to miss our flight to Athens, it also means that we likely wouldn’t be able to catch our flight to Rome. Because the flight we booked was back to back and it almost left us with no time in between.
Missing one flight is bad enough, so think about missing two flights, and the amount of money we had to pay to get new flight tickets.
Well, I fully understand the seriousness now.
Like I said, being stress wasn’t going to help with the current situation. What I think was crucial then, was to calculate how much it will cost us to get new tickets to Rome 😅
I was mentally prepared for the worse, but thankfully, we managed to board our flight in the end! The ground staff basically help us to skip the queue and we went straight through immigration.
We finally breathed a sigh of relief after making it onto the airplane 😌
No longer after, we reached Athens and immediately went to collect our boarding pass using the self-help kiosk.
Successfully collected our boarding pass!
Finally got him to smile for a photo after successfully made it to Athens!
✈️ Athens to Rome
This is such a life saver! No more running around searching for data SIM card when we arrive at a new destination.
Arrived in Rome, Italy!
Italy is one hour behind Greece, which means it’s seven hours behind Singapore!
Train tickets! We saw these machines before we came out of the arrival hall. Initially, we wanted to get our train tickets from here. But we later realised that we have to select the timing for the tickets. Since we weren’t sure how long it will take us to get to the train station, we decided not to get it then.
Just follow the yellow sign to the train station.
Time check: 14:12
From what I understand, we can either get our tickets from the self-service kiosk or from the counter. If I’m not mistaken, there is a price difference of a dollar? We eventually got our tickets from the machine at 14 euros each. Paid using credit card.
By the way, we decided to take the train since it’s much faster as compared to taking a bus. Train take approximately half an hour whereas the bus will take us one and a half hours.
Train cost 15 euros per person per trip while bus cost 5 euros.
I read online that it’s a must to validate our ticket? Not sure why, but we just did it anyway.
Clean and spacious seats.
The entire ride was enjoyable and our ETA was 14:55.
📍 Roma Termini Station
Made it out to the streets and we simply just followed our Google Map to find our way to the hotel.
Being our first time in Rome, I didn’t know which area we should stay. After doing some research online, a few places pop up, but upon further research, I realised hotels in those areas can be fairly expensive. Eventually, I came across this article that recommends visitors to stay near Termini Station.
So I narrowed my search to hotels around Termini Station and there were still lots of hotels to choose from. Eventually, I picked Domus Praetoria. Google show it’s a two-star hotel, and usually, I would have stayed away from it. However, like I mentioned, hotels in Rome can be fairly expensive (especially since we were making such last minute booking). The pictures and reviews look generally okay and the location seems fairly near to Termini station. So, in the end, I decided to just take a gamble and book it! No matter what, it’s still better than being homeless.
We booked through hotels.com and paid 623 euros for 6 nights.
Turns out, it was a really nice hotel! It far exceeded my expectation for a two-star hotel. I feel that it deserves a better rating! If I’m not wrong, the hotel is own by a family and we always see the father (owner) and his son around during breakfast or when we returned at night. They are really friendly and polite.
Double Room at Hotel Domus Praetoria
The furnishing and bedsheets… Very European style.
The room was also very spacious for two people.
By the time we settled in and left the hotel, it was around 17:00. We actually didn’t have any itinerary planned out, so we decided to just roam around the neighbourhood.
Can’t believe I’m in Italy!
We eventually went in to McDonald’s because it was too hot outside and we needed a place to cool down. Also, I figured the best and safest thing to eat was fast food before we figure out which restaurant to go.
It costs 9 euros for a meal (with large fries and drinks).
Continue exploring right after lunch…
I think I’m really bad at taking pictures of architectures. They look so massive that I don’t know how I should frame them.
Finally saw some fluffy clouds! I don’t think we saw any while we were in Santorini.
📍 Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
According to wikipedia – “The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, or church of Santa Maria Maggiore, is a Papal major basilica and the largest Catholic Marian church in Rome, Italy”
Later at night, the Boyfriend wanted to have pizza for dinner, so we went around looking for a place and eventually found one near to our hotel.
Bought a huge Norcino Pizza for just 9 euros.
Had our pizza in our hotel room and called it a night!